The number of DTU start-ups increased yet again in 2016. There were 67 companies founded, compared to 54 the year before. Students were responsible for the largest share. DTU’s Director for Innovation and Entrepreneurship believes this is due in part to entrepreneurial environments such as DTU Skylab.
A record number of start-ups have yet again emerged from DTU. A total of 67 new companies were created in 2016—44 by students and 23 by employees. This represents an increase from 2015, where 54 companies were established—31 by students and 23 by employees.
The result is pleasing to Marianne Thellersen, Senior Vice President for Innovation and Entrepreneurship:
“We've seen strong growth over the last few years, and I wondered whether the number of new companies might stagnate. But the number has risen once again this year, which is very impressive. All the new start-ups are examples of how DTU can provide new technology for the benefit of society. They can help create growth and jobs.”
Belief in an idea
Marianne Thellersen notes that the large number of student start-ups is due in part to the current social trend that it is ‘hip’ to be an entrepreneur. This trend is being supported at DTU through entrepreneur environments like DTU Skylab and Scion DTU science park, where students from different fields meet.
Other initiatives also target students, such as an entrepreneurs’ dinner and advice from mentors, lawyers, and accountants. The ‘student start-up of the year’ has also been honoured for the past four years at DTU’s Commemoration Day.
“I think Skylab has had a major impact on the large number of new student start-ups. Creating communities where people spend time with other entrepreneurs makes a difference. They find like-minded people here who believe in the model created at DTU, and that it is possible to create something that can help change the world.”
Three student categories
The student-driven start-ups fall into three categories. The first is those inspired by the tuition, where students have worked with innovation in specific cases. Nordic Algae is an example of this, which has developed an automatic seaweed cultivation and harvesting system for Danish coastal waters.
The second category contains students driven by a leisure interest or who have come up with an idea through the University's various extracurricular entrepreneurship activities. Sentar is an example of this, which works to prevent back and neck pain.
The third category is students who have established a consultancy firm. An example of this is Aerosphere, which develops security solutions for drones.
The employees’ start-ups are more product-oriented. These number more companies working with big data, the Internet of things, analyses, methods and equipment. Many sell not only a physical ‘gizmo’, but also a service or process which collects and analyses data. Students are often involved in the employees’ start-ups, and several also have external team members.
“It’s positive to see that many entrepreneurs think holistically, and have understood that it’s important to have a broad qualification profile when you go out and establish a company. Technical competence alone is not enough. You must also have commercial competence.”